President Obama and the Latino vote

President Obama made it legal for children who came to America before they were 16 and completed high school or were in the military to work legally in America. The Republicans hit back saying that the president was just playing politics

Last year in the US more non-white children were born than white children for the first time in US history. Just one more sign that America is changing. The principal reason for the change was the rapid growth of Hispanics. In the future it is likely that Hispanics will play an even bigger role in the US elections as their numbers increase. Most Hispanics in the US are from Mexico. In some states such as Arizona and Nevada they might hold the key to the elections. And Hispanics as a group are particularly sympathetic to immigrants as not so long ago many of them or their parents came from out of the country.

America was formed as an immigrant country as people left the Old World (Europe) and came to the New World. America even today with all its problems remains the biggest draw for people around the world for migration. Though there is now what is known as the reverse brain drain i.e. people moving back from America to their native countries. Though this is just a trickle and not a flood only because of the prosperity of America but it is also because it is much easier to get a job in America than most other countries in the world, further the Americans are quiet welcoming to outsiders and it is easy to assimilate in America. The US also has some of the best universities in the world with a tailor-made route to get a job and a green card.

Partly because of the proximity to America, many people from South America have come as immigrants to America over the years; some legally others illegally. Hence the issue of immigration touches a raw nerve as far as Hispanics go.

The Democrats have been regarded generally as more sympathetic than the Republicans to Hispanic voters This is due to the fact that they seem to be willing to be more liberal in allowing immigrants to live and work in the country. However, President Obama’s Homeland Security Department in the last three and half years has deported 1.1 million illegal immigrants, almost twice as many as George Bush had done. This has not gone down well with the Hispanics. To be fair to the Democrats, they did introduce the Dream Act in Congress which would have allowed more immigrants on the road to becoming legal. But the Republicans with their usual intransience blocked the legislation in the Senate.

President Obama announcing an executive order bypassing Congress made it legal for children who came to America before they were 16 and completed high school or were in the military to work legally in America. This immediately helped 8 lakh immigrants who Obama said were American all but in name. This kills many birds with one stone. It enthused President’s Latino base. It showed the intransience of the Republicans in Congress. It made a stark contrast with Governor Romney who had spoken against the Dream Act during the primaries. It made the Republicans look out of touch. The Republicans hit back saying that it was political and that the president was just playing politics.

Governor Romney and President Obama did not do anything in the first three and a half years and was now suddenly it was being done. This clearly shows that it was political. Well I suppose blocking the Dream Act in Congress was political too and in politics in the ultimate analysis everything is unfortunately political.

Senate Marco Rubio from Florida who is one of the people being considered by Governor Romney to be the vice-presidential candidate was busy drafting the Republican version of the Dream Act and said the short-term fix made the long-term solution more difficult. But the Republican response was extremely tepid. They clearly did not want to say anything on the merits of the Obama announcement.

They just made what can be called procedural arguments. Governor Romney did not give a straight reply when asked whether he would reverse the Obama decision if he became the president.

President Obama’s master stroke had suddenly changed the game.

(Harsh Desai has done his BA in Political Science from St Xavier's College & Elphinstone College, Bombay and has done his Master's in Law from Columbia University in the city of New York. He is a practicing advocate at the Bombay High Court.)


Lawmakers allowed to default on phone bills!

Parliamentarians were incensed when Anna Hazare launched a public protest about their foot-dragging on the Lokpal Bill. But these modern-day maharajas continue to use telephone facilities without paying dues, an RTI reply has revealed

For common citizens defaulting on utility bills like telephone and electricity leads to only one consequence: their utilities are disconnected. However, being a Member of Parliament (MP) seems to have its perks-even to default a public utility.

According to a reply received by Right to Information (RTI) activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, several MPs, past and present, owe over Rs7.31 crore to state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) towards telephone bills. That too when these MPs are allowed to make 1.5 lakh free calls every year. In the list of defaulters, there are six MPs from the current Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, while 399 are former MPs. Total dues of the current MPs amounts to Rs19.8 lakh, while the same for former MPs is Rs7.1 crore. These dues are from 1980 to October 2011.

Late ABA Ghani Khan Chaudhary (LS 495) tops the telephone defaulters' list with Rs34.43 lakh. He is followed by Janardhan Yadav (RS 040) with dues of Rs22.3 lakh and by Basava Raj Patil (LS 164) with Rs17.2 lakh. In case of sitting MPs, Ram Sunder Das (LS 079) tops the defaulter's with an outstanding of Rs9.5 lakh. He is followed by Bhakta Charan Das (LS 313) and M Krishna Swamy (LS 374) with dues of Rs3.32 lakh and Rs3.2 lakh, respectively.
At present according to the rules framed by the Parliament Secretariat i.e. the Housing and Telephone Rules of MPs Act, 1956, (as amended time to time), each Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MP is entitled to have five telephone connections, including two mobile connections, at different places and each MP is entitled to 1.5 lakh free calls every year on all these connections.

Calls made in excess in the 1.5 lakh free calls are carried forward to next year's quota. Similarly, unutilized calls also can be forwarded. Calls made within these limits are billed by BSNL or MTNL and the bills are paid by the respective secretariat of the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. Beyond the quota of the current and next year's calls, the concerned MP has to pay the bill.
According to the RTI reply, there is a public interest litigation (PIL) going on in the Delhi High Court. The Department has set up a special PIL cell and has appointed arbitrators. In order to implement the award, if the payment is not received, recovery suits are being filed by the field units of BSNL, where the liquidity is possible, the Liaison Officer (Phones) said in his reply.

According to Mr Agrawal, there should be rules for auto-deduction of all government-bills from salaries and pensions of present and former Parliamentarians."No-dues certificate should be necessary from contestants before filing nomination for any election. Services like of telephone, water and electricity should be disconnected for non-payment of any single bill, similar to what is done in case of common citizens. Strict-most recover-proceedings should be immediately initiated against defaulting parliamentarians (former and present) and or their legal heirs," he said.


Reliance Communications: “A House of Cards”

Canadian research firm Veritas charges that RCom is entering a phase of maximum uncertainty. The company calls the report mala fide.

The latest bombshell of a research report on Reliance Communications (RCom) by Canada-based Veritas Investment Research titled, "A House of Cards", alleges that the company is entering a phase of maximum uncertainty. The report further states that fractured policy making, high inflation, an uncontrollable fiscal deficit and the highly-competitive telecommunications sector, are all working against RCom.

The report states that the management will have to work out the debt repayment obligations of nearly $2.2 billion over the next two years even as the EBIDTA in its core telecom business is languishing.

RCom is reportedly downsizing its capital expenditure (capex) and is looking to hive off some of its assets. However, with the precarious position of the company in the Indian telecom sector, the reduction in capex would work against the interests of the company, the report stated. Veritas adds that RCom will have to improve its GSM spectrum position, and for this it would need higher capex to maintain its quality of service.

With most players in the telecom tower business out to monetize their assets, buyers for this business are scarce. Veritas goes on to say that its tower business arm, Reliance Infratel, would be able to monetize its tower assets at a lower value of Rs12,500 crore compared a valuation of Rs22,500 crore that the company is hoping to get.

RCom's subsea telecommunications infrastructure network business, Flag Telecom, which is expected to listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange through an initial public offer, is looking to garner around Rs7,500 crore to Rs10,000 crore.  However, Veritas reveals that Flag has been pledged by its holding company, Reliance Globalcom BV Netherlands, to secure debt of $500 million, leaves very little deleveraging room for the ultimate parent RCom.

The Canadian research firm is also doubtful of the company's accounting policies, which "do not provide a clear picture of the underlying operating and business trends". Veritas questions the risk management and governance practices of the company. The write-off of Rs950 crore ($179.2 million) in FY10-11, which was advanced to a supplier, points out to incompetence of the company.

While RCom reported a profit before tax profit of Rs882 crore for FY11-12, Veritas believes that the company incurred loss before tax of Rs1,529 crore ($ 288 million).

The report concludes, "The company has a tendency to report high levels of other income which is not sustainable on a long term basis, given the significant drop in its current cash balance. Furthermore, based on the company's inclination to book expenses to reserves and include other income in its EBITDA, reported EBITDA is an unreliable indicator of the company's operating prowess. Therefore we ignore other income in our valuation."

However, refuting the allegations, a RCom spokesperson said, "Veritas report lacks any credibility and is mala fide. Orchestrated media dissemination reveals ulterior and dishonest motives. Report full of factual inaccuracies and baseless allegations masquerading as research. RCom is fully compliant with all prescribed accounting policies and governance norms. Attributed valuations reflect Veritas' complete lack of understanding of RCom's assets and businesses. Veritas is systematically working to destroy confidence in Indian capital markets through sensationalist reports". 




4 years ago

Mr. Rajat Gupta has lot of contacts in RBI also as he got 15 - 17% of Tamilnad Mercantile Bank (TMB) shares. The shares were under dispute between the NADAR community and ESSAR Group / Sivasankaran.

Now, RBI has to direct Mr. Gupta to sell the TMB shares back to the NADAR community as it belongs to them originally.

RBI played the cunning fox role in giving away the TMB shares to Mr. Rajat Gupta.

Nagesh Kini FCA

4 years ago

Rajat Gupta is a classic case of people in high places developing feet of clay when greed overtakes their need.
The sheer overwhelming underlying evidence has led to the establishment of guilty findings.
It is sad to see a lot of India Inc,big wigs paying glorious tributes to a person who is guilty of a white collar crime of insider trading. Totally unforgivable by any standards of morality!

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